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Film / Da 5 Bloods

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"We repossess this gold for every single black boot that never made it home. Every brother and sister stolen from Mother Africa to Jamestown, Virginia way back in 1619. We give this gold to our people."

Da 5 Bloods is a 2020 war / adventure joint by Spike Lee, with a screenplay by Lee and Kevin Willmott (Blackkklansman), from an original screenplay by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo (The Rocketeer).

The movie tells the story of “the Bloods”, comprising Paul, Otis, Melvin, and Eddie, four veterans of The Vietnam War who return to the country decades later to retrieve the remains of their beloved squad leader, Stormin' Norman. The journey for Norman's remains is only part of it, however, as the Bloods also seek to discover a stockpile of gold bars that had been buried alongside him. They are soon joined by Paul's son David, who worries for his father's well-being as the group encounters activists, shady businessmen, mercenaries, and their own secrets on their quest for treasure.

The movie stars Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Mélanie Thierry, Jonathan Majors, Paul Walter Hauser, Jasper Pääkkönen, Johnny Trí Nguyễn, Jean Reno, Lê Y Lan, Ngô Thanh Vân. The movie was released on Netflix on June 12, 2020. The trailer can be seen here.

Tropes Associated With Da 5 Bloods include:

  • The Ace: Stormin' Norman was the Bloods' leader and the narrative makes clear that he was a very awesome man. His death was even the result of a very stupid accident, instead of the very dark secret that is hinted to be beforehand.
  • Actor Allusion: Isiah Whitlock, Jr.'s character, Melvin, says "Sheeeeeeeeeeit" once during the film, similar to how he uses it in The Wire. Later in the post-credit scene, the cast and crew say it.
  • Advertised Extra: Probably due to the popularity of Black Panther (2018), the film's official Netflix title card features Chadwick Boseman's Norman front and center. In the actual movie, while very important to the plot, Norman is a Posthumous Character who only appears in a handful of flashbacks and once as a ghost/hallucination near the end of the film.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Poor Eddie loses his arms and lower body to a land mine, bleeding out moments later.
  • Anachronic Order: the movie occasionally flashes back to the Vietnam War from its main timeline in the present day.
  • Anyone Can Die: The film has no hints of being violent until Eddie steps on an unexploded land mine, dying near instantly. After that, every character is put at risk of death, and main characters Paul and Melvin also die.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Paul attempts to Suck Out the Poison after being bitten by a snake after he abandons the group. It seems to work as he shows no ill effects afterwards. However the snake may have been non-venomous based on the bite marks shown on his arm. One could also interpret the bite as being all in his mind since he was already unstable and had gone through a pretty serious Sanity Slippage
  • Asian Babymama: Otis reunites with Tiên, a Vietnamese woman he had a fling with during his tour. He meets her to discuss the man who wishes to buy the gold, and sure enough, she introduces him to Michon, her mixed-race daughter. It doesn't take Otis long to put two and two together.
  • Asian Hooker Stereotype: Tiên, the contact who helps the Bloods connect with Desroche, was a prostitute during the war who had a relationship with Otis (which ended up producing a daughter). She seems fairly well-off in present day but confides in Otis about the difficulty of living with the stigma of being a prostitute who serviced American soldiers, while also being the single mother of a half-black daughter no less.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: The movie shifts to 16mm film for its flashbacks to the Vietnam war from its digital widescreen photography for the present-day scenes.
  • The Atoner: Hedy runs an organization that removes landmines from former war zones as a way to make up for her family's past exploitation of the Vietnamese during colonial times.
  • Author Appeal:
    • The film is social commentary on the African-American experience, a subject dear to Spike Lee's heart.
    • Every word in the subtitles is capitalized, which is how Spike Lee composes his tweets.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Paul, Melvin and Eddie are killed, and David is never able to fully reconcile with his father. However, Desroche and his men are wiped out, the money from the gold goes to various good causes, Otis formally reunites with his daughter Michon, Norman's remains are brought back to the U.S. so he can finally get a proper funeral and David gets some closure from a letter Paul left him.
  • Black Republican: The group is shocked when Paul (Delroy Lindo) talks about how he voted for "President Fake Bone Spurs". He even wears a MAGA cap for most of the movie's second half.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Paul gives a monologue directly to the camera during the film's climax.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Paul invokes this stereotype by telling Desroche that America saved his country in World War II, and the French would all be speaking German if not for the Yanks. Desroche counters that the Americans fared no better in Vietnam than the French.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The gun Tiên gives Otis, with two distinct introductions and payoffs.
    • It's introduced early on, then forgotten about until the rest of the Bloods discover it, leading to a tense, gun-wielding standoff. Soon after, the plot takes a violent turn featuring frequent use of the gun.
    • In the final temple showdown, the Bloods leave the gun with David, who's never used one before. Just afterward, they peacefully surrender the gold to Desroche and prepare to leave, and the gun is seemingly forgotten while David is incapacitated inside. The handover quickly turns into a firefight, but David is still ignored and incapacitated inside, until the very end, when he serves as The Cavalry for Otis and Vinh, saving them from Desroche with a trick shot to the head.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Hedy is a landmine disposal expert, and she pops up the moment there are landmines. It's subverted in that her team does nothing to help. It's Paul who comes up with a solution.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The characters, especially Paul, swear a lot.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Paul's paranoid theories about who is about to betray them are all proven wrong. Tiên, Hedy, and Vinh were all loyal to the group and remain on good terms with the surviving Bloods at the end. Paul's decision to abandon the party causes him to lose his share of the gold and die an ignoble death, while those who stuck together survive or go out in a blaze of glory and keep their gold. This fits with the larger theme about the Bloods being about brotherhood, unity, and loyalty.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • The present-day events are set in motion by a landslide that just so happens to end up uncovering the plane's tail section.
    • David randomly meets Hedy at a Vietnamese bar. Later, the Bloods encounter a landmine field, and Hedy's team is just a few hundred feet away from that precise landmine field at that precise time.
  • Dead Man Writing: Paul narrates his own letter to David meant for him after his death.
  • Death Seeker: Paul has cancer but refuses treatment, preferring to die on his feet in the jungle rather than slowly on a hospital bed. He gets his wish.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of the many characters to speak negatively about Donald Trump is the Big Bad, who tosses away a MAGA hat and curses it.
  • Fallen Hero: Paul, a Purple Heart-decorated 'Nam veteran who is increasingly reduced to a Scary Black Man suffering from Gold Fever-induced Sanity Slippage as a result of his PTSD that places him at odds with his fellow Bloods.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Melvin jokes that he'd never jump on a grenade to save his comrades. In the final act, he does just that.
    • When threatening Seppo, Paul tells him "Boy, I've killed far better men than you." The Reveal near the end of the film is that he accidentally killed Norman back during the war.
  • French Jerk: Desroche is a crooked Frenchman who is condescending toward Americans and turns out to be the villain of the film.
  • Friendly Fire: It's revealed that this is how Norman actually died, with Paul accidentally plugging him with a round as he shot the Vietcong guerrilla trying to get the drop on them.
  • Genre Shift: The first ¾ of the movie is a cerebral drama about four buddies reflecting on their time in Vietnam and discussing contemporary culture. Then Eddie steps on a landmine and the last ¼ becomes a fast paced action film.
  • Gold Fever: As expected during a hunt for treasure, finding the gold and ways to launder it is a significant source of tension among the Bloods.
  • Grenade Launcher: Norman uses a M79 grenade launcher during the flashback where the Bloods find the gold.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Michon, the daughter of Otis's former flame Tiên, is of mixed Vietnamese and black ancestry. It doesn't take Otis long to puzzle out who the father is. Tiên admits Michon had a very rough childhood, looked down on not only for being a mixed black girl but also for very clearly being the result of Tien servicing American GIs.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Due to Rule of Drama. In the final showdown against Desroche, David, who's never shot a gun before in his life, gets a perfect headshot on Desroche with one bullet.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: After earlier claiming that he'd never do such a thing, Melvin throws himself on top of Desroche's grenade to save Otis.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": David is alerted to stepping on a landmine when it clicks.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Paul is distrustful of Tiên from early on, seeming to fear she is either trying to turn Otis against the rest of the Bloods or team up with Desroche and betray all of them. It only gets worse when the Bloods discover that she gave Otis a pistol "just in case." At the climax of the movie, Desroche reveals Tiên knew nothing about his plan, and the end scene shows Otis reuniting with her and embracing Michon as his daughter, suggesting the three will remain on good terms.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Paul on some level hates his son David because his mother died giving birth to him. Paul straight up told David that he loved David's mother more than him.
  • Messianic Archetype: During the Vietnam War, the pure-hearted, sage-like Norman served as a spiritual leader to the Bloods, who continue to revere him long after his death. It is mentioned that Paul in particular "believed in Norman like a religion." The messianic undertones are made explicit towards the end of the film when Paul, after abandoning the other Bloods, has a vision of Norman, who absolves him of his sins and sets him on the path of redemption.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Female Vietcong prove to be more efficient and effective than their male counterparts, with one taking down the Bloods' helicopter with an RPG early in the film and another attempting a sneak attack that results in Paul accidentally killing Norman when he fired too long.
  • Nature Tinkling: David stumbles upon the gold when he goes to take a dump.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Desroche's mercenaries empty their rifles' magazines into Paul at very close range.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: In the final showdown, David gets shot in the leg, and while the others treat this as a serious injury that keeps him somewhat out of commission, it doesn't stop him from shooting Desroche, and he isn't shown to have long lasting injuries afterward. Vinh also gets shot in the arm, and Melvin tells him he'll be fine. He also survives with no apparent side effects. Most extremely, Otis gets shot multiple times and is lying incapacitated on the ground, but later on is walking around apparently fine.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Paul voices anti-immigration sentiments, uses offensive language against French and Vietnamese people, and surprises the other Bloods by mentioning he voted for "President Fake Bone Spurs." He even wears a "Make America Great Again" cap for most of the second and third acts of the movie.
  • Posthumous Character: "Stormin' Norman" Holloway is long dead by the time of the film's main plot and only appears in flashbacks to the Vietnam War.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In his last moments, Paul finally comes to terms with accidentally killing Norman during the war after the vision of Norman forgave him. Not long after that, he got captured by the mercenaries but refused to disclose the location of the rest of his friends to the very end, buying them enough time to set up an ambush and give them a higher chance of survival.
  • Sanity Slippage: Paul hasn't been right in the head since he saw Norman die, and his PTSD only worsens after returning to Vietnam.
  • Scary Black Man: Paul, once he undergoes Sanity Slippage.
  • Secretly Dying: Paul has cancer and no desire to get it treated.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The trauma Paul faced as a soldier in Vietnam only becomes more apparent as the film progresses.
  • Shouting Shooter: The Bloods mourn the death of Martin Luther King Jr. by screaming and shooting their rifles into the air in unison. It plays out like a parody of the trope.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Signature Style: As he has done in several other films, such as Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee uses archival footage of historical events and speeches and ends the film with a montage of real people who weren't previously involved in the plot. He has a lot of shots of people looking into the camera, including a dolly shot where the subject seems to be floating forward.
  • Sole Survivor: Otis is the only one of the original 5 Bloods to survive the events of the film.
  • Stock Footage: The film frequently cuts to archival news footage of events that characters are describing.
  • Take That!:
    • The film is one giant criticism of America's treatment of black soldiers and the Vietnamese.
    • The Bloods make fun of movies like Rambo: First Blood Part II and Missing in Action (except Paul, who says he likes them) asking why Hollywood wanted to make movies where white soldiers get to go back and win the Vietnam War instead of telling stories of real-life heroes like Milton Olive III, a black soldier who saved his platoon by jumping on a grenade.
    • Several of the Bloods take cracks at Donald Trump for dodging the draft. Paul, the only Blood with obvious mental illness, is the only Blood who endorses Trump. The Big Bad also wears a MAGA hat ironically for a while before throwing it away and cursing it.
    • At one point, the Bloods' Vietnamese guide, Vinh, says that Ho Chi Minh is to modern-day Vietnam what George Washington is to the United States. Otis responds that there is one crucial difference between the two: unlike Washington, Ho Chi Minh was not a slave owner.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Notably averted. In the flashbacks to the Vietnam War, the Bloods are played by the same actors as they are in the present, with no effort made to de-age them.
  • Tokyo Rose: In the flashbacks, the Bloods listen to a radio broadcast by Hanoi Hannah specifically targeted towards black GIs like the Bloods. The program aims to get them to desert by pointing out they're risking their lives for a country that still has deep racial inequality. The Bloods learn about the MLK assassination this way and seem convinced by the propaganda or at least seem to seriously consider what it has to say.
  • True Companions: the surviving Bloods, but the movie tests the strength of those bonds as they get closer and closer to finding the gold.
  • The Vietnam Vet: All of the Bloods are Vietnam veterans, and their memories of the war are of course central to the plot. Of them all, Paul best fits the stereotype, a Shell-Shocked Veteran who's suffering from PTSD and proudly wears veterans' insignia.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Desroche in the movie's climax. The purpose of the look seems to be to invoke the Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit trope, particularly because he's also wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap, but the character is French.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: David struggles to earn his father's respect, and at one point sobs that his father hated him from the day he was born, which may explain why personality-wise he's a bit of a pushover. Paul shows him very little respect, and as his Sanity Slippage progresses stops just short of disowning him.

"5 Bloods don't die, we just multiply!"


Video Example(s):


Hanoi Hannah

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnam broadcaster Hanoi Hannah attempts to undermine black troops by questioning why they fight overseas for a country that has such deeply-instituted racism.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TokyoRose

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